Lobsters, Lobsters Everywhere, and All of Them to Eat!

Here in Florida, we are in Rock Lobster season. Fishermen head to our warm waters with their spears, trying to get their share of nature’s bounty. Not only is our lobster season different, but the lobsters are quite different from the better-known New England Lobsters.

At first glance, most people note the Florida lobsters do not have the large claws that are so sweet to eat. Then, after cooking, the color remains brown, rather than the bright red of their New England cousins on the plate.

Recently, I was on a beach trip with friends and we decided to do a comparison of the two. I have trouble finding both on the same day at home, but, with some planning, we found a restaurant that ordered both kinds for our side-by-side comparison.

New England Lobster tails, served beach side with butter is a sweet treat.

New England Lobster tails, served beach side with butter is a sweet treat.

At first, the Rock Lobsters didn’t look larger, however there was far less waste than with the New England Lobsters. Out of their shells, one Florida Rock Lobster had about the same amount of meat as three New England Lobsters. I used to live in New England, so I have to point out they come in all sizes. Here in Florida, the New England Lobsters we are served are quite small. Up North, I would call them an appetizer size. My Dad would call them bait.

The body of the Florida Rock Lobster, wood-grilled, makes a hearty main course.

The body of the Florida Rock Lobster, wood-grilled, makes a hearty main course.

Now, to the taste test. You probably already know, the New England Lobster is very tender and sweet. I not only enjoyed it, but I was reminded of so many Shore dinners in my past, boiled with lots of butter. Now for the Florida Lobster: the meat is meatier. Ours were wood-grilled and had a smokey flavor that went with the texture, much like a tender steak. Without seasoning, it tasted very substantial, a special entrée. Mine was so large that I could not eat half of my portion. No worries. That’s what friends are for.

Since I adore New England Lobsters, I’m shocked that of the two, I found the Florida Rock Lobster to be a better dinner entrée. Not only is the size more substantial, but the flavor and texture make a satisfying meal. I’m planning some home dinners with friends, featuring our own local products, both fresh and flavorful.

Dos Equis Times Two: The Most Interesting People in the World

The Dos Equis Man has nothing on my friends Dave and Trish Munson. They have to be among the most interesting people in the world and, somehow, found one another.

Trish was in my class back in Kirkwood, MO, and when I was there for our high school reunion, she and her husband asked me to spend an evening in their lovely home. I suppose it counted as a Tantra Cooking night, since we all planned the menu and helped a bit. Actually, David did most of the cooking while Trish and I caught up on the past several years.

Trish and Dave Munson: the Most Interesting Couple in the World in their Well-Lit Kitchen

Trish and Dave Munson: the Most Interesting Couple in the World in their Well-Lit Kitchen

My favorite dinners are always the simple ones, such as our dinner of salmon, salad, vegetables and our desert of frozen custard and fresh berries. Every bite was perfection.

Still, Tantra Cooking meals are all about the comradery, the conversation, and this was an evening rich in both. We each showed photos of our families, but theirs were the best I’ve ever been treated to. We all love music and attend concerts, however they showed me videos of famous musicians playing private concerts, fund raisers, in their back yard. Trish spoke of her years in the local schools, teaching and polishing both normal and special-needs children. Trish and David own an art-lighting company and they showed me their products, all very custom and museum quality. Their lighting is beyond anything I’ve ever imagined and their home is a private test lab. (In the photo, note the interior of a cabinet left open. You couldn’t lose anything in there!) When they learn of someone in need, they jump in to help. These two not only have hopes and dreams, they live them.

Our high school class was rich in world renowned super stars, but these two are the kind that make our world a better place.

Reunion

Last weekend, I was able to travel “home,” to Kirkwood, Missouri, for a high school reunion.

It was so much more.

While it was wonderful to see my classmates, childhood friends, pals from scouting days, it was even more wonderful to see them as the wonderful adult friends they have become. All of us have faced adversity, be it health, the loss of a parent, the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse. When we were younger, people might have come to reunions to show off a bit. We are older now. Now, a reunion with family and friends is coming home. Home is where we come to heal.

I witnessed miracles over the weekend, as former rivals shared photos of grandchildren along with hugs. Childhood friends shared both joy and pain, tears finally giving in to laughter. For one weekend, we became young again.

A real highlight for me was a short reunion with my dear friend’s mother. I’ve written about her here before. Ginger Cornelius, the woman who warmly opened her home to all of her children’s friends, is still doing so. She is the charming hostess who taught me how to graciously entertain, who taught me the joy of cooking, the joy of family.

Sunny Jennings with Ginger Cornelius, as beautiful as ever.

Sunny Jennings with Ginger Cornelius, as beautiful as ever.

We put together a lovely, light lunch of sandwiches and salad while catching up on life’s events in her welcoming kitchen. I was overjoyed to be able to explain how she changed my life with her gracious hospitality. I wasn’t even her child, but she treated me, treated us all as though we were. I tried to pass that on to my children and their friends, all of whom benefited from Mrs. Cornelius’s warm and giving nature. By extending her love to me, she has reached hundreds of children and now, their families and friends as well. I have to wonder how many children there were like me and how many thousands have reaped the rewards of the love she shared.

Sometimes on this blog, I speak of sharing cooking with our loved ones. Mrs. Cornelius is the inspiration for much of the good in my life, including my cooking.

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